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Recipe: Penne with Pork Tenderloin & Tomato Sauce

This recipe brings back some memories. This is the very first recipe that I made for my wife about 10 years ago. I remember reading the recipe in GQ magazine (of all places) and thinking to myself that this would taste great- what a great dish to impress her with my cooking abilities. Well, as it turns out, the dish came out really well and I guess that it was impressive enough for her to stick with me this long! Since then, I have probably made this recipe about a dozen times. What I have learned since the first time is that it is a relatively foolproof recipe so the success should be attributed more to the recipe author than anywhere else.

The pork is braised in this recipe in wine and the puree from the canned tomatoes. Typically, I would not braise a pork tenderloin because there isn’t enough fat in the cut to stay moist. For this recipe, it works for some reason. One note: do not overcook the pork! Toward the end of the cooking process, check the temperature- I look for an interior temperature of about 140 degrees. The pork will continue to cook to with carry-over cooking while it is resting. Please be sure to cook the meat to your desired doneness.

Keep in mind that pork tenderloins come in packages of 2 for some reason. You’re going to need them both for this recipe to serve six. We’ll walk through cleaning them in the recipe. We serve this dish over pasta, but it would be equally good over some rice. Your choice. For the sauce you have a couple finishing options: leave it somewhat rustic or shoot it through a food mill. I typically leave the sauce as is- it is just so tasty there isn’t much that needs to be done to it. Let’s jump in!

Ingredients:

1 pork tenderloin package- about 2.5 lbs
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flat leafed parsley, finely chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium or 2 large yellow or white onions, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 cup red wine
1 can whole Italian plum tomatoes
1 box penne pasta
Parmesan cheese for grating

Butcher’s twine for the loins.

Okay- let’s get the oven set to 300 degrees. While it is heating up, take the tenderloins out of the package. The first thing to do is pat them dry with paper towels. With a boning or utility knife, cut off any fat that’s just hanging out. Then find the silver skin. This is the part of the tenderloin that looks white and shiny. If you don’t take this out, it will be really chewy. What we are going to do is lay the tenderloin on the cutting board with the silver skin on the top and facing the right side of the board. About an inch from the right side of the loin, slip the tip of your knife under the silver skin. With your left hand holding the tenderloin, use the other to cut under the silver skin out the right side of the loin. Now turn the loin over so the silver skin is still on the top but facing the left side of your cutting board. Use the part you just cut as a flap to hold onto with your left hand. Put your knife blade under the flap and cut the remainder of the silver skin out. Ok- hopefully that went well. Repeat on the other loin. When you are done, make a 1 inch deep cut down the length of both loins. **See Note**

Next, mash the garlic and parsley together to make a paste. I used the side of my knife blade, dragging it and pressing down across my cutting board smashing the garlic and parsley together. If this seems extreme to you, use a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, really finely chop the garlic and parsley together. Take the paste and divide in two equal portions. Use one portion per loin and pack the cut you made with the paste. Next, tie the loins with butcher’s twine. **See Note**

Finely chop the parsley and garlic together. Photo by Scott Groth

Then mash them together to make a paste. Photo by Scott Groth

**Note** If you are not comfortable using butcher’s twine, you can make four or five incisions down the length of each loin and simply pack them up with the paste. I like the flavor to be uniform throughout the loin, so I use the twine. When I first started cooking this dish, I made the incisions.

Okay, whether you wrapped the loin in twine or made incisions, it’s time to season the loins. Liberally coat with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Take out a large skillet or dutch oven and heat over high heat. Add in 2 tablespoons of the butter and 1 of the olive oil. When the pan is hot, reduce to medium-high heat, add the loins and brown on all sides. When the loins are browned, remove from the pan and set aside in a 9X13 baking dish.

Cut along the pork and pack with the paste. Photo by Scott Groth

Tie up the pork with some twine and then season the loins. Photo by Scott Groth

Add the onions and carrots to the pan. Sauté for seven minutes over medium heat. Add the oregano, basil, red-pepper flakes, wine and tomatoes. Simmer for ten minutes, breaking up the tomatoes as they cook. Pour the tomato mixture over the loins in the baking dish. Cover with foil and toss into the oven for about 2 hours.

Something to keep in mind is that the pork can easily overcook if you don’t have the pasta ready. After an hour and a half, I start the water for the pasta (I know that my pasta pot takes about 20 minutes to come to a boil- you will need to adjust the time for your pot). Take out a large pot and fill with water. When it has come to a boil, add in a good amount of salt. Wait until it returns to a hard boil and then add in the pasta. Cook to the desired tenderness. Drain and set aside.

Take the pork out of the oven and check that it has achieved the appropriate internal temperature. They say that 165 is appropriate, but I find that the meat is completely dry and devoid of all flavor at that temperature. I cook mine to 140 and let it carry-over cook for about seven minutes while it rests (PLEASE cook the meat to your level of preference). Remember to let the meat rest in the braising liquid. After the meat has rested, remove from the braising liquid. Remove the twine (if used) and slice the pork.

I serve this dish in bowls because the sauce is a little bit thin if you don’t run it through a food mill. Toss some of the pasta in a bowl and top with a scoop of the tomato sauce. Top with a couple slices of the pork and a touch more sauce. Finish with some freshly shaved Parmesan cheese and some chopped parsley. Serve with a nice Italian wine: a Barolo or a Chianti work great with this dish. Serve piping hot and enjoy!

Mmm... doesn't that look good? Penne pasta with pork tenderloin and tomato sauce. Yumm. Photo by Scott Groth

Comments { 2 }

Recipe: Squash Risotto

For many years, we have not eaten rice at our house.  My wife doesn’t like it, which I always thought was odd because she will order fried rice when we are doing Chinese takeout.  Oh well, some things are best left untouched.  In recent months, however, we’ve been discussing risotto more frequently so I decided that for New Year’s Eve we would eat some squash risotto.  I’ve only made risotto a couple times in the past, but had a pretty good idea on what I wanted in the dish.  I have to say that this dish turned out really well- I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

The grocery didn’t have much squash on hand, so I picked up two Delicata squash.  These are really delicious squash that are vibrant yellow with green stripes.  They worked perfectly for the dish simply because they don’t have much interior flesh so nothing went to waste with this dish.  I also used a standard arborio rice which is important when making risotto.  Long grain or other rice will not cook properly- be sure that you find arborio.  The last suggestion that should be made for this dish is to use homemade chicken stock if you have it available.  The depth of flavor will be greatly increased over using store bought stock.  If you don’t have any homemade stock, be sure to find low or no sodium chicken stock.

Makes enough squash risotto for eight people as a side.

Ingredients:

2 Delicata or other small squash
1/2 cup of water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 medium Spanish onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups arborio rice
8 cups chicken stock (you may not use it all)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, loosely packed
Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper

Fire up the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scoop out all the seeds and other gunk in there. Discard. Take out a baking sheet and lay the squash halves cut side down on the sheet. Pour the 1/2 cup of water onto the sheet and toss in the oven when it is at temperature. Cook for about 40-45 minutes or until cooked through. You’ll know they are cooked through when you press the skin and you feel no resistance. Flip the squash cut side up and set aside to cool.

Take out a large sauce pan or skillet. Keep in mind that we are going to be doing a lot of stirring for this recipe, so sharp cornered pans should be avoided. Put the pan over medium heat, add the butter and 1 teaspoon (or so) of Canola or olive oil. When the pan is hot, toss in the onions and cook for about seven minutes or until translucent. Add in the cumin and stir for about a minute. This will start toasting the cumin, so make sure that you are stirring. This step releases a lot of flavor into the dish.

Next, toss in the garlic and stir for another minute. Now, add in the Arborio rice. You want to brown the rice a little before you start adding the chicken stock. Again, this step is in here to build more flavor into the dish. Just be sure that your heat isn’t too high (you want to hear some sizzle) and that you are stirring.

Okay, once the rice is a bit golden, let’s start adding the stock. My suggestion is to have the stock in a bowl next to the stove. Use a 1/2 cup measure to ladle the stock into the pan. Start with the first 1/2 cup- you will get a LOT of sizzle on this one and it will absorb very quickly, so be ready with the second 1/2 cup. Stir, stir, stir. Once the liquid has mostly evaporated and been absorbed, add another 1/2 cup. Continue with this process until the rice begins to thicken and doesn’t absorb as much liquid.

Now, you want to taste every now and again. If the rice still has some tooth left on it (feels uncooked when you sample it) continue cooking and add chicken stock sparingly. Once it has reached the desired consistency and is cooked, remove the risotto from the heat.

Scoop the flesh out of the squash and put it in a bowl. Mash it around with the back of a fork until all chunks are smooth. Add the squash to the risotto until completely incorporated. If the risotto looks a little thick, put it back on low heat and add chicken stock sparingly. Add in the cheese and the fresh chopped thyme. Stir. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. This is a rice and squash dish, so it might need a considerable amount of salt as both of these ingredients like the sodium.

For a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth rather than the chicken stock.  It might not have quite as much richness, but it will still be delicious.  In any event, I hope that you take the time to make this recipe.  It’s really tasty!  Enjoy.

Squash risotto with some duck confit and chasseur sauce. Yumm.

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Recipe: Lemon Ice Cream on Raspberry Squares with Crumble Topping and Coulis

A couple weeks ago we whipped up some super chocolaty frozen custard that was really good.  Since then, I’ve been interested in making more ice creams and one of my readers sent me a tweet to a recipe for some lemon ice cream.  Now, I’ve been eating ice cream my entire life and have never heard of lemon ice cream.  I’ve made and enjoyed lemon sherbet and lemon granita in the past, but never lemon ice cream.  My interest was certainly piqued enough that I stored the idea in the back of my head.  As I was thinking about what type of dessert I would make for our Christmas celebration, I just couldn’t shake the idea of making lemon ice cream- and I don’t like lemony things very much.

Lemon ice cream is simply not enough for a dessert around my house during the holidays, though.  It needed something more.  What goes with lemons… I thought that raspberries would be a nice touch.  Make a shortbread, top it with some raspberry puree and a crumble topping.  Plop a ball of the lemon ice cream on top and drizzle with some raspberry coulis.  The cool thing about this dessert is that it can all be made a couple days ahead, which reduces the amount of time running around the day of the dinner.

Well, for this dessert combination, I did not take any pictures of the process of making it.  It is purely the result of being lazy.  Both my camera cards were in my computer and I simply didn’t get them.  So, now I will do my best to describe the processes as well as I can.  What I can tell you is the end result was really tasty.  All the dessert plates were picked clean even after a huge, somewhat heavy holiday meal.  That’s about the best endorsement you can get on a dessert, I think.  Let’s get into the recipes that I have updated from the originals.

Ingredients for Lemon Ice Cream:

1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 cups heavy cream

As with the recipe for the Super Dark Frozen Chocolate Custard you are going to need an ice cream maker for this recipe.  If you don’t have one, be sure to call your family and friends- somebody has one that they are not using and will gladly let you borrow.  When you get your hands on one, one thing to keep in mind is that the ice cream carafe needs to be frozen for about a day before you make the ice cream.  This will guarantee good results.

Okay, so add together the sugar, lemon products and the eggs in a sauce pan.  Whisk them around and turn the heat to medium.  Make sure that you cook these slow and low so that your eggs don’t scramble.  After about five to seven minutes, you will notice that the mixture has thickened enough to heavily coat the back of a metal spoon.  When this state is achieved, add in the milk products and stir until incorporated.  Turn off the heat and strain the cream mixture through a fine sieve.  This step is important for several reasons- first, it removes the lemon zest that we don’t want in the ice cream.  Second, it catches any eggs that might have started to scramble from getting into the ice cream, which is a good thing.

Now we need to get this mixture chilled.  There are several ways to do this.  First, you can leave it on the counter for an hour until it cools enough to put in the fridge.  I’m not a fan of putting really hot items into the fridge- it throws off the refrigerator and increases the chance for spoilage of other items.  If you don’t have the time, put together an ice bath in a larger bowl than what you poured the cream mixture into.  Set the cream mixture into the ice bath and stir until the mixture is cooled.  When it has cooled enough, toss it in the fridge for four to eight hours.

After it has had a chance to really cool down, toss it into your ice cream maker.  Due to the amount of cream we used in this mixture, you are going to want to run this mixture in the ice cream maker for about 25 minutes.  When it has thickened enough, transfer the ice cream from the machine to a freezer safe bowl.  Freeze for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.  Okay- the ice cream portion is done!

Ingredients for the short bread base:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s)
1/3 cup extra fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
pinch of fine grain sea salt

Turn your oven on at 350 degrees. I used an 8X12 baking dish for my base, but my guess is that this would work in a 9X9 as well, but might need some extra time to cook because it will be thicker. I sprayed the dish with non-stick baking spray. For some reason, I love this stuff. It works every single time I have used it- nothing sticks!

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Mix in the sugar (to make sugar extra fine, toss it in the food processor for about 2-3 minutes), then the egg and the butter. Add in a pinch of fine grain sea salt (this will incorporate better than kosher salt). Mix until thick. Toss this mixture into the baking pan and level with your hand.  I used the flat bottom of a glass to really pack the dough into the dish and make a flat base layer. After it has been compacted, toss into the oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Nice work, the shortbread base is complete.

Ingredients for the Raspberry Puree:

3 cartons of fresh raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 pod vanilla seeds (optional)

Take out a bowl and add all the ingredients together. Let this sit for about an hour and then stir. The raspberries will naturally start to fall apart. Let sit for another hour if you have it, or if you don’t then stir vigorously until all the raspberries have been pureed. Now take the mixture and place in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Allow to drain, stirring every now and again, until most of the liquid has been removed from the berry mixture. Save the liquid and set aside. Spread the raspberry puree over the cooled shortbread base. Onto the crumbled topping!

Ingredients for the crumbled topping:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

Toss all the ingredients into a large bowl. I used a potato masher to get everything incorporated together (not a ricer, a hand masher!) If you don’t want to do this, use your fingers to break up the butter to make the crumbled topping. When it looks like a bunch of little pebbles in the bowl, you’re ready to top the raspberry layer.

After you have added the topping, toss the whole shootin match back into the 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the crumble has taken on a golden color. Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the Raspberry Coulis, take the bowl of reserved raspberry liquid and add in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar. Mix well. That’s it.

To plate this dish, I simply cut the squares out and plopped some ice cream right on top. I used the bottom of the plate to pool some of the coulis and added a few fresh raspberries to each plate. If you want, use bowls and drizzle the coulis over the top. However you do it, this is a really refreshing and light dessert after a big meal. Enjoy!

Refreshing end to a meal. Next time, a little less ice cream. Photo by Scott Groth

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Recipe: Homemade Super Dark Chocolate Frozen Custard with Pomegranate Syrup

I love ice cream.  It’s not a common item in our house though… probably because I love it so much and it is just bad for the body. Well, sometimes it feels good to be bad so I made a mean batch of frozen custard- probably the worst for you of all the frozen delicacies out there. Go big or go home- right?  We’re going to put together egg yolks, sugar, cream and chocolate to make some silky smooth, melt-in-your-mouth frozen chocolate custard.  It’s homemade, easy to do and delicious- so let’s get started.

For this recipe, you will need some sort of ice cream machine.  If you don’t have one, get on the phone with some of your friends- I guarantee that somebody has one that they are not using right now.  Mine has been chilling (get it?) in the cabinet for probably 10 years without seeing the light of day. Most people would be happy to lend out this underutilized kitchen appliance. To use the machine, unless you have the kind that needs rock salt and ice (you’re on your own here), the base (carafe) will need to be frozen.  Plan on making your ice cream 24 hours after you put the ice cream carafe into the freezer.  I know, the directions say only 8 hours are necessary- but trust me, 24 hours is what it needs to get your frozen custard to set correctly.

We’re going to be tempering eggs in this recipe as well- so here’s the deal- when you temper eggs you are simply heating them up slowly with liquid so they don’t cook and make scrambled eggs.   Nobody wants scrambled eggs in their ice cream- that would be pretty funky.  In the event that you do see some lumps in your custard, don’t worry about it- just strain through a fine mesh sieve and all is right with the world again.  I strain mine before letting it set anyhow as a precaution.

Ingredients for the Super Dark Chocolate Frozen Custard

5 egg yolks (save the whites for an omelette or something)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch processed for a super smooth custard)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)
1 1/4 cup whole or 2% milk (I used 2% because it is what I had)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

So when we get going, we’re going to do things in batches. There is some resting involved in this recipe (for the ingredients, which means that you can take a break too). The first thing to do is get the milk into a sauce pan over medium-low heat. We want to heat this just until it starts to bubble around the edges. As it is heating, take out a medium size mixing bowl and add in the yolks, sugar and cocoa powder. I needed to sift my cocoa powder because it had some good sized lumps in it. Mix it up in the bowl- if it gets stuck in the whisk, use a butter knife to clear it.

Sift the cocoa powder and break up any lumps. Photo by Scott Groth

When the milk is hot, pour about 1/4 cup into the chocolate mixture at a time- whisking to incorporate. Do not pour all the milk in at once- this will cook your eggs. Once they are combined, return the mixture to the sauce pan and put over low heat. You’re going to want to stir this sauce constantly to prevent burning and cook it over low heat to prevent your eggs from cooking too much. If the mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat immediately and continue to stir. Remember that we can sieve the cooked egg out prior to the custard setting. Cook the mixture for 5-6 minutes or until nappante (it thickly coats the back of a metal spoon).

This custard thickly coats the back of a spoon (nappante). Take it off the heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve. Photo by Scott Groth

Now, take the custard and pour through a fine mesh sieve (even if you don’t think you cooked any eggs- it is precautionary) into a bowl that will be covered with cellophane and leave in the refrigerator for the next six to eight hours (this is the resting period). You have just made a delightful and chocolaty custard base. If you wanted, you could have poured this mixture into some mini martini glasses for a fun dessert idea.

Use a silicone spatula and lightly run it over the sieve to allow the custard to pass through easily. Photo by Scott Groth

After the custard has set, remove from the fridge and take off the plastic wrap. Pour in the cream and vanilla. Mix gently. Pour the mixture into the ice cream carafe- make sure that you don’t go much above the halfway point! Remember that the ice cream will expand as the molecules freeze- just about doubling in size. Start the ice cream maker. I ran mine for about 30 minutes. You can see how thick the custard gets- it’s almost impossible not to stick a spoon in and taste it while it is freezing.

Lightly whisk in the cream and vanilla, then pour into the ice cream carafe. Photo by Scott Groth

This is what it should look like right after it is poured into the ice cream machine. Photo by Scott Groth

This is what your frozen custard should look like after about 15 minutes in the machine. Photo by Scott Groth

This is just about ready to come out of the machine. I stuck a spoon in there to give it a taste- yummy. Photo by Scott Groth

Thirty minutes flies by and it is time to put the custard into a bowl that will go back in the freezer. Although you have some soft-serve directly from the ice cream maker, it will melt quickly. I suggest putting the frozen custard back in the freezer for about 2 hours to firm it up a little. If you need it more quickly than this, make sure that your bowls and utensils are chilled to slow down the melting process.

Toss it in to a bowl and into the freezer to firm up. Looks tasty! Photo by Scott Groth

After a couple hours, this ice cream is ready to eat. I’d say that it is almost too rich and chocolaty- which is hard for me to say because I love chocolate ice cream. What I did was made a quick pomegranate reduction- it’s fast, easy and really pairs nicely with this frozen custard.

Pomegranate Reduction Recipe:

1 fresh pomegranate, sliced and seeded (save the seeds, pitch everything else)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons agave syrup

Add the sugar and water together in a small sauce pan. Turn on medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the agave and 1/2 the pomegranate seeds. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain out the pomegranate seeds (these are now candied, but the seeds themselves are bummers in the teeth) and cool the syrup in the fridge or freezer. Pour over the Super Dark Chocolate Frozen Custard and smile, cause it’s just that good.

Enjoy! More pictures below too for the Pomegranate Reduction-

Fresh pomegranate seeds. Remove them from the fruit with a narrow spoon. Photo by Scott Groth

The seeds are cooking in the simple syrup and agave. The seeds will impart their red color into the syrup. Photo by Scott Groth

Here's what it looks like at the end. I would omit the seeds on top- they stuck in my teeth for an hour. The frozen custard and pomegranate syrup are delicious together though! Photo by Scott Groth

Comments { 11 }

Recipe: Brooklyn Chocolate Decadence Cake

A couple weeks ago I actually had the urge to bake.  I never have the urge to bake.  For me, baking doesn’t have enough opportunity for exploration.  In savory cooking, I can throw in some of this and a little of that or change my cooking style eight ways until Sunday.  With baking, I follow a recipe and hope for the best.   That’s another piece to it- you make the batter or dough, toss it in the oven and just hope that it comes out tasting ok.  If it doesn’t, typically it needs to be scrapped.  Seems like a high risk endeavor most of the time.  But, every now and again it needs to be done.

Since I don’t bake a lot, there aren’t many recipes in my repertoire.  I posted up on The Chubby Cook Facebook page that I was on the hunt for a good sweet dessert recipe.  There were some suggestions and then one person had a very specific suggestion and was emphatic that it was an excellent recipe.  So, I asked him for it and he sent it to me.  Typically I wouldn’t post up a family recipe and I am not going to today.  Have no fear, this recipe was from a newspaper which you can see below.

This is the recipe that was sent to me. We'll work off this with a little more depth.

My reader was also specific that Droste’s cocoa powder be used for the recipe.  It is a Dutch processed, unsweetened cocoa powder which is made with alkali (a leavening agent).  It took me a while of searching around to find Droste’s in any of the stores around me.  For those of you in Cleveland, I finally found it at Miles Farmers Market.  The rest of the ingredients are easy to find.  So, let’s get started:

Recipe for the Cake:

2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/2 cups of sugar (I used extra fine)
2 large eggs, at room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream, at room temp

Recipe for the Pudding Frosting:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temp cut into 4 equal slices
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

So we start by getting the oven going at 350 degrees. The recipe says to grease 2 8-inch round cake pans but I used that baking spray instead and it worked incredibly. My cake looked like souffle in the oven, which is incredible because normally it looks dense and blah. Yeah baking spray!

This picture is out of order- but look at the rise on these cakes! Photo by Scott Groth

Okay, so you sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Sifting allows the ingredients to combine and breaks up any clumps which is a good thing. If you don’t have a sifter, toss those ingredients into a fine mesh sieve. Shake it around until everything passes through.

For the next step, it says to cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer with the whisk attachment. I think that my butter was still too cold because it clumped up in the middle of the whisk. I cleared it out and eventually got the butter to the creamy consistency, full of air. It took me about four or five minutes, probably because I was messing around with the butter so long. Once you get it to the right consistency, reduce the speed to low and add in the eggs and vanilla. I added the eggs one at a time until completely incorporated before adding the next.

When you start to add the flour and sour cream, you want to alternate adding the two. If you don’t, your batter will become too dry and clump or too soupy and lose the air you beat into the butter. Also, I stop the mixer when adding the ingredients, otherwise they will end up all over the counter. Once they are all mixed up, make sure that you scrape the bottom of the bowl with a silicone spatula in the event there were any pockets of dry ingredients hanging out down there.

In the cake rounds, ready to bake. Photo by Scott Groth

So now you take the cake pans and fill them equally with the batter. Smooth them out on the tops and toss them in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes. One of my cake pans finished in 40 minutes, the other in about 45 minutes. It was most likely because they weren’t equally distributed- but the lesson here is to check them both to ensure they are done, not just one. When they are done, take them out of the oven and set on cooling racks. When they are on racks, it allows air to circulate under the pan which is important. After 15 minutes of cooling, remove the cakes from the pans and set on the rack.

These cakes are out of the tins and cooling on the rack. You can tell by looking at them that they are really moist cakes. Photo by Scott Groth

While the cakes are baking, might as well get going on the pudding. It doesn’t take long to make, but it sure does take a while to set. Your cakes will be finished long before the pudding is done. The first thing the recipe calls for is to melt the chocolate. When I make this recipe again, I’ll probably double the chocolate for the pudding. For me, it just needed more chocolaty punch to it. So you melt the chocolate in a double boiler. I have a double boiling set, but if you don’t simply use a glass bowl that can be suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Mix the chocolate around until it melts, then turn off the heat to the water. The chocolate will hold until you need it.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. My cornstarch was packed really tightly, so I sifted it to break it up a little. Mix the ingredients together and then pour in the boiling water. Crank the burner to high heat and mix consistently until the mixture comes to a boil. Because I was stirring more vigorously than might have been called for, it was hard to tell when the mixture came to a boil. I don’t think it was 5 minutes, but it may have been. After I stopped stirring and saw that it was at a boil, I let it go for the minute, removed it from the heat and added in the chocolate, vanilla and chunks of butter one at a time.

My advice is to get out three pans so everything is ready to go. The left pan has the sugar and cornstarch, the right pan has the melted chocolate and the top pan has my boiling water. Photo by Scott Groth

Now here comes the waiting game. Pour your pudding into a bowl and let it come to room temp. Who has time to wait until that happens? I put my bowl over an ice bath and stirred a little while it cooled. That may have been a mistake since my pudding turned out a little strange. Tasty, but a strange consistency that was hard to get on the cake. Next time, maybe I’ll just let it do its thing and come to room temperature.

Ok, so by now your cakes should have cooled and are ready to be sliced. The easiest way to slice a cake is to find the middle point on the side of the cake. Now take a bread knife and cut in about one inch. Rotate the cake and continue cutting in a little further. Repeat until you have gone all the way around the cake and it should separate into two nice pieces. Repeat on the second cake.

The cakes are sliced and pudding is ready- let's assemble! Photo by Scott Groth

I put a dollop of the pudding on the cakestand (this keeps the cake from moving around) and then one layer of the cake. We didn’t have any cardboard rounds, so I put it right on the stand. Using a spreader, do your best to spread the pudding around on the layer. I tried to get an even 1/4 inch thick layer. Repeat this step with the second and third piece. Before you spread the pudding on the sides of the cake, take the forth piece of cake and toss it into the food processor. Make the crumbs and set aside.

Using the spreader, spread the pudding on the sides of the cake. This proved to be a challenge and took some patience. I found that the best method was to spread pudding on about 1/4 of the cake first and then slap a couple hand fulls of the cake crumbs on it to hold it in place. Repeat until the entire cake is covered with pudding and cake crumbs. Looks pretty tasty, right?

This is the finished product with the cake crumbs coating all the pudding. I would wait until the next day before digging in- it is so much better. Photo by Scott Groth

Here’s the thing with this cake- the cake part is absolutely delicious. Like I said, I would probably have put more chocolate into the pudding to make it more chocolaty. The strange thing is that the cake tastes so much better on the second day that I would suggest not even cutting it until it has sat, covered, overnight. The cake is light, moist and delicious- so much so that this will be my go-to cake recipe for chocolate cake. Until next time, enjoy!

A big glass of milk is a must-have for this chocolate cake. Looks good enough to eat off the screen! Photo by Scott Groth

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Recipe: Veal Stock, Demi-Glace, Glace de Viande and Consommé

It took me a while to realize just how much better home made stock is than store bought. For years I only cooked with store bought stock- it makes sense because it isn’t all that expensive and is one heck of a lot easier to buy it than to make it. I knew to look for low or no sodium options and figured that the more expensive the box of stock was, the better it would be. I have to say that recently I’ve become a true convert to making homemade stock. It is truly remarkable how much better and more complex the flavor profiles can be with a well made stock. Check out the difference below between my home made veal stock on the right and the most expensive, organic store bought version on the left. Crazy- right?

The stock on the left is a premium brand, organic beef stock. Not sure what that sediment is. The stock on the right is from this recipe. Photo by Scott Groth

Okay, so homemade stock can make your food taste better and certainly looks better than store bought stock. One of the issues with making stock at home is simply storing it. Stock takes up a lot of room and is only good for three to five days in the fridge. Unless you have a stand alone freezer that is relatively empty, freezing isn’t a much better option either. Instead, we can reduce the stock down 75% which will result in what is known as a Demi-Glace. This is simply concentrated stock. It takes up much less room and saves time when you are cooking because the stock is already partially reduced. If we chose to do so, we could reduce the stock about 90% and we would be left with what is called Glace de Viande. This is literally translated as “meat glaze” or “meat icing” which I think is awesome. This super concentrated stock can add some serious flavor to any red meat dish. It is truly an incredible item to have in the kitchen.

So how does consommé fit into this equation? Well, consommé is simply a clarified stock and I made some recently so thought it would be a great place to discuss. Consommé is really not all that hard to make and, when done correctly, is a delicious dish. I paired up my consommé with some sauteed birch and enoki mushrooms. All the dish needed was a tiny pinch of salt and that’s it. It was the perfect dish to start a seven course meal- light and full of flavor.

Here’s a quick note: if you are going to make this stock, make a lot of it. It’s not all that time consuming to prep the stock, but it should simmer for 40 to 48 hours. With that kind of time commitment, I figure that it is better to make as much as possible so I don’t run out anytime soon. I have a huge soup / canning pot that I use for this recipe.

Made both chicken stock (left pot) and veal stock (right pot). You can see how much bigger the veal pot is. Photo by Scott Groth

Recipe for Veal Stock- ingredients primarily from the recipe by Chef Tom Johnson, changed slightly by me.

7 pounds of veal bones, cut by the butcher for roasting
3 pounds of chicken necks and backs (get these from the butcher as well)
1 turkey neck, broken down into thirds
1 cup dry white vermouth
3 large onions, peeled and quartered
5 large carrots, sliced into 4 pieces
6 stalks of celery, cleaned and chopped into 4 pieces
1 large turnip, washed and quartered
4 medium to small leeks, white and green parts, washed very carefully and chopped
1 large or 2 small heads of garlic, sliced
1 28 ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes- drain the puree for some other recipe

Tie these next ingredients into a bundle of cheesecloth:
12 parsley stems
6 dried allspice berries
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves

One hard and fast rule about making stock- do not add salt or salt anything going into the stock.

Turn the oven onto 375. We need to roast the bones, backs and necks. I need 2 baking sheets to accomplish this task at my house. Put the cut bones on one and the chicken / turkey parts on the other, making sure that there is space on both sheets for air to circulate. I put the necks and backs on the middle rack and the bones on the bottom rack. Roast the bones for about 15 minutes and flip over in the pan. Flip the necks and back after about 20 minutes. Remove the bones after they have cooked for 30 minutes or are starting to brown nicely- be sure NOT to burn the bones- this is very important as it will result in a non-usable stock. Remove the necks and backs after about forty minutes- they should be browned up pretty well.

Put all the roasted parts into the stock pot. Pour off the grease from both baking sheets. Place the sheets, one at a time, on your stove. Turn on the heat to medium. As soon as you see the liquid on the sheet start to bubble or make noise, pour the vermouth onto the sheet to deglaze. Scrape all the browned bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon. Move this tray to the side- leave the liquid in it. Put the next tray on the burners- when the tray is hot, pour the liquid from the first tray into the second and deglaze that tray, scraping off the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour the liquid into the stock pot with all the browned bits.

Bright and delicious vegetables ready for the stock pot. Photo by Scott Groth

Toss all the vegetables and the spice packet into the stock pot. Cover the whole deal with cold water until it is about 1″ from the top of the pot. Cover the pot and place on the stove over high heat. As it is coming to a boil, scrape off any foam, scum or fat that you see rising to the top. Boil the stock for 5 minutes being careful that it is not at a rolling (rapid) boil. After it has come to a boil, reduce the heat to low (or simmer if you have that setting), cover partially and cook for another 48 hours. It should only be simmering, not boiling! Every four or five hours, I give mine a skim and a stir.

Skim off the foam and any other gunk as it forms. Photo by Scott Groth

When the stock has cooked for what seems like forever, turn off the heat. Take out a good, sturdy sieve and line it with a folded over piece of cheesecloth. You are going to want to use the cheese cloth so that your super cooked vegetables don’t get mashed through the sieve. Using a ladle, start ladling the stock through the cheesecloth lined sieve into a holding vessel. When you have most of the stock out, start hunting through the solids in the pot to remove the bones- toss these out. Then start to put the solids into the cheesecloth lined sieve and pressing on them with the backside of a sturdy wooden spoon. We are extracting some good flavor here! If your cheesecloth becomes too soiled to allow liquid to pass, remove it and rinse under running water.

After the stock has been completely strained, allow it to cool before putting in the fridge. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours. The next day, remove the fat that has risen to the top and discard. Congratulations- you have just made an incredible stock. You can either use what you have for whatever (including consommé), freeze what you have or make some demi-glace or glace de viande. Let’s check em out.

Making the Demi Glace and Glace de Viande:

After removing the fat (this is very important to do before reducing the stock) put the stock you want to reduce into a large sauce pan. Turn the heat to medium and begin to reduce. Stir every once and a while until the stock has reduced about 50%. At this point, you want to stir more frequently. When the reducing stock will lightly coat the back of a spoon, you’re just about done. Remove from the heat. Because this is concentrated, I pour mine into ice cube trays which I then cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Whenever I need a cube of pure flavor, I grab one of these and toss it into the recipe. Simple and easy. The demi-glace will last about a month or so in the fridge or probably a year in the freezer. Around my house, I tend to use them all up just about every month or so.

Demi-glace ready to freeze. Photo by Scott Groth

To make the Glace de Viande, continue to reduce beyond when the stock will lightly coat the back of a spoon. We are looking for a very dark and thick consistency without burning the stock. The best approach is to take it slow, over moderate heat. It is hard to have patience for this, but the outcome is worth the wait. When the mixture thickly coats the back of a spoon (and looks like a thick syrup), remove from the heat and pour into a ramekin or other holding vessel. Refrigerate. It will look kind of like a shoe polish- shiny and dark. Add sparingly to any pan sauce, chili or other meat dish for instant flavor. I think that this will keep in the fridge for a good, long time.

Recipe for Consommé

Ok- so to make the consomme, you have to have some stock ready to go- this recipe should work to clarify just about any home made stock. Here’s what we need to get started:

Ingredients for Consomme- serves eight

8 cups home made stock
2 carrots, peeled and diced fine
2 celery stalks, washed and diced fine
1/2 small onion, peeled and diced fine
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Take out a pan large enough to fit the stock and other ingredients. This should be a high sided pan. Pour in the stock and turn on the heat to medium. While the stock is warming, whisk the egg whites until they are frothy. Add in the diced vegetables and lemon juice. When the stock is warm, pour the egg mixture into the stock and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil and whisk until a crust forms on the top. This may take a couple minutes to happen. After the crust has formed, turn the heat to low and make a small hole where the stock can simmer through. Leave to simmer on the stove for an hour or more, without stirring.

These are frothed egg whites. Photo by Scott Groth

The egg white crust has formed and the consommé is now simmering. Photo by Scott Groth

After it has cooked for an hour or more, remove from the heat. Line a fine mesh sieve with a couple layers of cheesecloth or two layers of damp paper towels. Begin to ladle the clarified stock through the lined sieve into a holding vessel. Discard the solids that remain. If the consommé looks like it needs to be sieved again, use fresh paper towels and run it through again.

Ladle through a cheesecloth or damp paper towel filter to catch the solids. Photo by Scott Groth

To serve, warm the consommé in a clean pan. I sauteed some birch and enoki mushrooms which I piled in the bottom of the bowl and then ladled the consommé into the dish. Add a pinch of salt if desired. For a clarified stock, this has some serious flavor.

So, that’s about it for this one. We made some stock, some demi-glace, a little glace de viande and consommé. Enjoy and happy cooking!

Veal consommé with wild mushrooms. Photo by Scott Groth

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Recipe: Pan roasted sausage, caramelized onions and chive mashers

There have been a lot of potatoes in my life recently.  I attribute it mainly to the season change- when it gets cold out it is time to whip up some mean taters.  So tonight I was looking through the pantry thinking about making a risotto for dinner when Caroline says that she would like some bratwurst and mashed potatoes.  Well, okay then.  Risotto tomorrow night.

Originally I was thinking about grilling the brats and serving them in some hoagie buns, topping with the mashed potatoes and calling it a night.  The problem is that there is a snowstorm going on outside and I’m just not interested in braving the elements.  Instead, I sliced them on the bias and pan roasted them over relatively low heat.  Just enough sizzle to know they are cooking.  I figured that some caramelized onions would do the trick to punch up the flavor a lot, so I got those going as well.

Potatoes were the last thing on my mind. I had some chives left over from a yogurt dip that we took to a birthday party on Friday, so I figured that was probably good enough. A little butter, some cream and chives would give the dish that degree of freshness that it needed. Sausage and caramelized onions are heavy on flavor and on the palate in general- the chives would give a blast of herb magic to the dish. This recipe is really easy so you can make it any night of the week.

Makes enough for 4 people.

Ingredients:

1 package Johnsonville (no kidding) Bratwurst, sliced on the bias into coins
1 onion, cut in half and sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced into 1″ cubes
1/2 cup cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup reserved cooking water
4 tablespoons chopped chives
Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper

This dish kinda comes together from all directions right about the same time so it is important to start specific things earlier than others. The first thing to start on is the onions because they are going to take the longest. Take a pan out that has a tight fitting lid and turn the burner on medium-high. Melt the butter and add one tablespoon of oil. When the pan and butter are hot, add the onion and a pinch of kosher salt. Cover the pan and don’t open it for at least five minutes. Listen to the pan- if you hear tons of sizzle, turn the heat down a little bit. If you don’t hear any, turn the heat up. You’re going to be cooking these onions for about 30 minutes, so have patience. Just about every 5 minutes or so, stir the onions and be sure to cover the pan every time. Pay attention to the heat in the pan- you don’t want them to burn.

Put the onions in the pan, cover and leave em alone for a while. Photo by Scott Groth

After about 7 minutes of cooking- time to stir a little. Cover and keep cooking slow and low. Photo by Scott Groth

After the onions have started, get a stock pot out and fill with water. Cover the pot and set over high heat. While you are waiting for the water to boil, take out a large skillet and put it on a burner over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, layer the pan with the sausage. If the pan is too hot, reduce the heat- it should just be sizzling, not burning the meat. Cook for about four minutes a side, then flip. When they are done, move them to a plate that is covered with paper towels to absorb some of the grease. Set aside.

Back to the water: when it comes to a boil, salt the water pretty heavily. When it comes back to a boil, add in the potatoes carefully. Bring back to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook until fork tender. Be sure to reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Strain the potatoes in a colander. Next, put the potatoes back into the pan and turn over medium heat. Cook off some of the moisture for about a minute or two. Remove the pot from the heat and add in the butter and cream (or milk if you want). Mash around. Add in some cooking liquid if they look dry. When you have the desired consistency, give them a taste. Add in salt and pepper as needed. Toss in the chives and stir with a spoon.

Okay- so the onions should be fairly caramelized by this point. Reduce the heat to low and uncover. Cook for another 5 minutes and they should be ready to serve.

These are what they should look like around 20 minutes or so. Starting to caramelize nicely. Keep em covered up. Photo by Scott Groth

When your onions look like this, it's time to uncover and cook for a couple more minutes. Photo by Scott Groth

So I thought tonight that we would have some upscale comfort food. I hit the plate with a dollop of ballpark mustard and spread it out with the backside of the spoon. Next up is a healthy serving of the potatoes, topped with some of the caramelized onions. I stacked some of the roasted sausage coins on top and hit it again with some onions. Nobody said that comfort food can’t have a little style. Tonight we enjoyed the dish with some Anchor Steam Christmas Ale 2010. All around, it was a really good dinner. Enjoy!

So this is it- some pan roasted sausage with caramelized onions over a bed of chive mashers. Mustard tastes good with this dish. Photo by Scott Groth

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Recipe: Meat Ragout prepared with Homemade Vodka Sauce

I’m a sucker for vodka sauce. I find that vodka sauce has a more mellow, rounded flavor than marinara sauce. In my experience, vodka sauce is pale pink in color and chock full of flavor. I know that you can buy it in the store in a jar, but what fun is that? This recipe is relatively straightforward and will result in a sauce that is light tasting with a subtle sweetness that just pairs perfectly with the veal and beef in the ragout.

The idea to make the vodka sauce came to me while in the grocery store (which is where almost all my recipes are hatched), but there was one problem: I’ve never made a vodka sauce before. Seems like the story of my blogging career. So, I headed over to the jarred pasta sauce aisle and started reading the ingredient labels of all the vodka sauces they had. You will know I was there because all the jars are rotated ingredient side out. It seemed simple enough- tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, spices and vodka. I decided that I would pick up a red pepper as well and some veal and beef to make more of a hearty ragout than just a sauce.

To build some depth into the sauce, I used some anchovy paste. Some of you might be reading this thinking that it sounds gross, but it is a great way to build flavor into a dish and add a salt component. Believe me, you’ll never taste the anchovies- they are just working in the background to help out the dish. Buy the paste in a tube- it’ll last just about forever in the fridge.

We served this meal with some of my fresh French Bread with some black truffle butter slathered on top. That’s just naughty.

Makes enough sauce and pasta for 8 people.

Ingredients:

2 lbs pasta (I picked up these huge elbows that looked as though they would hold the sauce well)
1 red pepper
1 Spanish onion, peeled and small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb 85/15 ground beef
1 lb ground veal
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup vodka
2 cans whole, peeled tomatoes in puree (28 ounce)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1 heaping teaspoon of dried oregano
1 heaping teaspoon of dried basil
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper

So to get ready for this recipe, let’s simply get everything together first. Get out a big stock pot and fill it with water. Set it on the stove so it is ready to go. Open the cans of tomato sauce and paste. Dice and mince the onion and garlic. Turn on a burner (if they are gas) and place the red pepper right on the burner. It’s ok if the skin gets black. If you don’t have a gas burner, you can use a torch or roast the pepper in an oven at 425 for about 20 minutes. When the skin is blistered or blackened, place it in a paper bag, close the top and set aside.

This pepper just started getting charred. Use tongs to rotate around the flame. Photo by Scott Groth

Take out a large sauce pan and put it over medium high heat. Add in a tablespoon of oil and when the oil is hot, add in the onion and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for about six to seven minutes. We want to sweat the onion, not brown it. Toss in the garlic and cook for another two minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn. Using a silicon spatula to get all the stragglers, remove the onion and garlic from the pan and put into a bowl. Set aside.

Heat the pan again and add in one tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil. When the butter is melted and the oil is hot, add in half of the beef. Let it brown a little and then add in the second half. If you add it all in at once, the pan will lose too much heat and your meat will turn gray. Cook the meat until it is done and place it in a separate bowl from the onions and garlic. Repeat this process with the veal, adding it to the bowl with the cooked beef. Set aside.

Return the pan to the burner and bring it back up to temperature. We are going to deglaze the pan with the vodka, so make sure that you are not pouring right out of the bottle. Put it in a measuring cup. When the pan is hot, for safety sake, turn off the burner. Pour in the vodka and then turn the burner back on. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the vodka simmer for about 3-4 minutes.

Tomatoes, pastes and spices just added- see how thin the sauce starts off. Photo by Scott Groth

Carefully pour in the cans of whole tomatoes. Stir to incorporate. Next, add in the tomato paste and anchovy paste. Stir to incorporate. Add in all the dried herbs, stirring. Lastly, add in the cooked onions and garlic. This needs to simmer for about 30 minutes. Please note: we did not add in the cooked meat here- we are going to process the sauce in a blender.

While the sauce is simmering, let’s take the pepper out of the bag. Using a spoon or the backside of a knife, remove the charred skins. Carefully open the pepper and remove the seeds and stem. Cut the pepper in half, keeping one half out to use in the sauce and one half can be refrigerated for some other use. Place the half pepper we will be using into the blender.

The tomatoes are broken down and the sauce has thickened. This is ready to blend. Photo by Scott Groth

As the sauce simmers, you can start to break down the tomatoes a little bit. We want to reduce the sauce to a nice consistency before we blend it. When you have about 15 minutes left before the sauce is done, cover the stock pot and turn the heat to high. Bring the water to a boil. Once the sauce is ready to be blended, heavily salt the water for the pasta and add in the pasta you have purchased.

So the pasta is cooking away and you are going to carefully spoon the vodka sauce into the blender.  Please note that I have removed the center of the blender lid and have a paper towel over the hole.  When you blend hot liquid, it creates steam which will pop off the lid if it is not vented properly!  If your blender isn’t big enough and you have to work in batches, that’s ok. Blend the sauce on high- it will turn from a deep red to a light pink in the blender- check out the picture below. We have incorporated a ton of air into the sauce which has lightened the color. Pretty cool. When all the sauce has been blended, return it to the pan over low heat. Add in the cooked beef and veal and stir for a while to bring the temperature back up. Add in the grated Parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate.

Check out how different the top and bottom look. Incorporating air through blending changes the color drastically. Photo by Scott Groth

The pasta should be cooked- drain it into a colander- make sure to shake it around to get most of the moisture off. Toss it back in the pot and add in about a cup or two of the sauce. Mix around in the pot. This is an important step as the pasta will absorb a ton of flavor while it is sitting in the pot.

Take out a bunch of bowls and portion out the pasta. Ladle a great big helping of the sauce over the top and garnish with some shaved Parmesan or Asiago and some chopped parsley. Serve with a side of crunchy bread and a nice Italian wine. That’s it.  We’re ready to eat.  Buon appetito!  Salute!

Yumm. Chunky, meaty ragout with a rich vodka sauce and fresh bread. Delicious. Photo by Scott Groth

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Recipe: Rabbit and Wild Mushroom Terrine

So this is the second terrine that I have ever made.  The first was just about a year ago for Thanksgiving and it was a duck confit and wild mushroom terrine.  What turned out last year was somewhat dry and simply a little odd.  It needed a sauce and some more soul to the dish.  Unfortunately at the time I could offer neither.  It was truly a sad affair.  What that offers one year later is a great platform to make something exceptional.

First, I have to say that this would not have been possible without the help of the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.  This is not a paid advertisement for this book (I don’t do those for anything) but I’ll tell you what- this is one incredible book.  There is an entire chapter devoted to terrine which goes into an deep dive on the subject of terrine and pâté.  Many of the variations didn’t really sound appealing to me, so I went online to look for a rabbit terrine recipe.  Many that I found online seemed like they had some really overpowering ingredients to them- so I figured that I would make one up and simply use the technique from Ruhlman’s book to make a mousseline style terrine.

Okay- so what is a mousseline style terrine?  It’s simply a terrine that is made using cream and egg white as the binder.  It seemed to me to be the easiest means to nice terrine, so this is the path that I followed.  It is really pretty easy to make.  One note to keep in mind about this terrine is that you will need to marinate your rabbit overnight or for at least 12 hours.  The terrine itself will take about 45 minutes to an hour to make, needs to cook for about an hour and then cool for several hours before being refrigerated.  This is not a quick fix meal.  Also, I chose to make a rabbit demi glace to use with the sauce, but it is not necessary.

Makes one delicious terrine with some rabbit and mushroom sauce.

Ingredients to prepare the rabbit:

1 whole or broken down rabbit. If you are getting a rabbit butchered, ask for the loins to remain intact.
1 leek, white part only, cleaned and chopped
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper

Remove the meat from the rabbit. This may take a little while since the meat has a lot of sinew. It doesn’t need to look nice because it is going to be minced anyhow. Be sure to keep the loins intact.

Mix all the ingredients but the rabbit together in a bowl large enough to fit the ingredients and the rabbit. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper. Add in the rabbit, mix around lightly and cover with the ingredients. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours, preferably 24 hours.

Ingredients for the Rabbit Stock (if making)

Bones from 1 rabbit (or more if you have them)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, rinsed and chopped
5 sprigs fresh parsley
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1 bay leaf

Put the bones on a baking sheet and toss into a 375 degree oven for about an hour. Rotate once or twice during the cooking for even browning. When they are brown, place in a stock pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and skim off and discard any foam or other stuff that floats to the surface. Add 4 more cups of water and all remaining ingredients. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 hours.

Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve that is lined with damp cheese cloth. The cheese cloth will prevent the cooked vegetables from being pressed through the sieve. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Skim off any fat. At this point, you can reduce to a demi glace by placing the stock in a wide pan and reducing for an additional hour until it has lost approximately 75% of its volume. Cool to room temperature and store in the fridge until needed or freeze for up to 4 months.

Ingredients for the Rabbit & Wild Mushroom Terrine:

1 marinated rabbit, loins set aside and remaining meat roughly minced. Discard all marinade.
1/3 lb pork belly- roughly minced with the skin removed
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces sliced mushrooms- shitake or baby bella will work
25-30 thin slices of pancetta
1 large egg white
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper

Ingredients for the Rabbit Reduction Sauce

1/2 cup rabbit demi glace or 1 cup rabbit stock
4 ounces royal trumpet mushrooms (or white mushrooms) diced fine
1/2 tablespoon butter for the mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons flour

So we are going to need to preheat the oven to 300 degrees. While that is heating, take the bowl and blades for the food processor and place in the freezer. We need to keep the temperature of the ingredients as chilled as possible. Leave the pork belly and rabbit in the fridge or place in the freezer temporarily while we work on the loins and mushrooms.

In a medium sized skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Take the loins and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, add the loins and brown on each side for about 35 seconds. They will shrink considerably while browning- that is ok. When they are browned, put on a plate and place in the freezer.

Add in the second tablespoon of butter. Toss the sliced mushrooms into the hot pan and sautee. Add a pinch of salt and cook until soft. Move to a plate, spread into a thin layer and toss in the freezer.

Pancetta provides the perfect wrapping for this terrine. Photo by Scott Groth

While everything is cooling, let’s line the terrine with the pancetta. Start at the bottom and lay the pancetta into the terrine, overlapping as you go. Work your way up the sides. When you get near the top, add one more layer that will hang over the sides. We will fold this on top of the terrine after it is filled. This is also a good time to find a pan large enough to hold the terrine as a bain marie while it cooks. I used a loaf pan as shown in the picture. If you have a teapot, fill it now and heat over high heat. You will need the hot water soon.

Terrine in the bain marie. No water added until in the oven. Photo by Scott Groth

Take the food processor bowl and blades out of the freezer. Assemble the processor and put the minced rabbit, pork belly, garlic, shallot and egg white into the bowl. Puree. While the machine is running, add the cream in a slow, steady stream. Add in a pinch of salt and a couple grinds of pepper. It should look like a thick paste which is called a forcemeat.

Take the mushrooms out of the freezer and fold into the forcemeat. Fill the pancetta lined terrine about 1/2 way with the forcemeat. Take the browned loins from the freezer and place into the terrine, pressing down slightly to make sure they are level. Fill the terrine with the remaining rabbit mixture. Fold the pancetta over the top. Place the top of the cooking vessel on the terrine. Move the terrine and the bain marie into the oven. Fill the bain marie with the hot water from the teapot until the level reaches about 3/4 of the way up the terrine.

Close the oven and bake for about an hour. After an hour, remove the terrine carefully and check the temperature with an instant read thermometer. The interior temperature should be 140 degrees. When it has reached 140 degrees, it is done cooking. Congratulations, you have just made a delicious terrine. Allow the terrine to cool in the vessel for several hours. It should be compressed while cooling as well- my terrine came with a plate to set on top. I place about 4-5 cans of soup on the plate to compress the terrine. When it has completely cooled, remove the cans and the plate, cover and chill in the refrigerator for several hours.

Four or five cans on the plate are used to compress the terrine. Photo by Scott Groth

When it is getting close to the time to serve, it’s time to get the sauce moving. Add the butter for the mushrooms over high heat to a skillet. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until softened and move the mushrooms to a plate. Set aside. If you are using a rabbit stock, add to the pan and reduce until it begins to thicken. If you are using a rabbit demi glace, add to the pan and heat. While they are reducing or heating, mix the room temp butter and flour together. When the stock or demi are ready, add in the butter and flour mixture. Mix well and cook for 3-4 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back side of a spoon. Add in the cooked mushrooms and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning.

So, there you have it. A rabbit and wild mushroom terrine that is really terrific. You can serve this cold or at room temperature- whatever your preference might be. To remove the terrine, simply run the bottom of the vessel under hot water for about 30 seconds. It will then release easily from the pan. Place on a cutting board and slice with a sharp knife. Plate and drizzle the sauce over or around the terrine. The pan seared loin in the center is just like finding a little piece of treasure in this awesome dish. Enjoy!

Rabbit terrine with a wild mushroom pan sauce. Photo by Scott Groth

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Recipe: Whipped Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

Why devote an entire post to whipped potatoes? Because they’re damn good. It’s just that simple. I was asked recently to bring a potato dish to go with a roasted chicken seasoned with rosemary and garlic. I thought that a whipped potato might work better than a mashed or smashed potato. I love the potato in so many recipes- here’s a small sampling of some other delicious recipes you could try: Slow Pan Roasted Redskin Potatoes and Onions, Pan Fried Cheesy Potatoes, Cheesy Redskin Mashers with Bacon Croutons, Poblano Gratin Potatoes and some Herbed Hashbrowns.  Any of these would have gone fairly well, but something new needed to be done.

I thought about how to approach this dish for a little while.  The idea to roast some garlic was appealing and I heard on the radio the day before Thanksgiving about some whipped potatoes.  I’ve never whipped a potato before, so why not try something completely new to take with us.  Guess that’s just the way I roll- the same old thing is just boring- always looking for something new.  For this recipe, I also wanted to keep the fat content a little lower simply because we just gorged ourselves two days earlier at Thanksgiving.  Check out the pictures of our feast here.

So, the challenge was to make a really good dish that was lower in fat that hasn’t been made before in my kitchen.  I think that this recipe satisfies the self-imposed challenge.  The potatoes are light, silky and have a wonderful roasted garlic undertone.  For these potatoes, it is very important to heavily salt the water they cook in.  It will add depth to the flavor of the potatoes.

Made enough for 5 people, but should have been enough for more.

Ingredients:

8-10 medium Idaho Gold (great for boiling) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
2 heads garlic, roasted
1/3 cup heavy cream, warmed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3-4 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup reserved cooking liquid
Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper

Before we get into the potatoes, we need to get the garlic roasting. If you have a toaster oven, this is the best place I have found to roast garlic at my house. Takes less energy and heats up faster than the big oven. Set whatever you have at 400 to 425 degrees. So, to roast garlic, you begin by slicing off the top of the head of garlic. Sometimes I’ll trim the roots as well if they look really dirty, but most times I don’t. Place the head or heads of garlic in a small, oven proof dish. Pour a healthy dose of olive oil over the tops of the garlic. Next, sprinkle some kosher salt and grind some fresh pepper on each head. Cover tightly with foil and place into the oven. Cook for an hour to an hour and twenty minutes, depending on how roasted you like your garlic. I like mine more roasted, so I leave it in longer.

Roasted garlic with some pepper on there- yumm. Photo by Scott Groth

When the garlic is done, remove it from the oven. Using a sharp knife, cut the foil along the edge just like a can opener. Be careful though because steam will escape. Take some tongs and turn the garlic heads over. You will see some bubbling in the bottom of the dish when you do this. Let the garlic cool like this for about 30 minutes. When it is cool, simply squeeze the sides and the roasted garlic will come shooting out the top, ready to eat. Man, this is some good stuff. Try some mashed on toast with a touch of microplaned Parmesan, some salt and pepper. Really tasty garlic bread. Onto the taters!

Take out a big pot and toss in the cubed potatoes. Fill the pot about 2-3 inches above the potatoes with water. Cover and bring to a boil. When the pot is boiling, add in a generous amount of kosher salt (I put in about 3 tablespoons). Potatoes are like salt sponges- they will really soak it up so you probably won’t need to add more later and the salt will be incorporated into the spud this way. Let the potatoes cook until fork tender (when you pierce with a fork, they are tender). Before you drain the potatoes, take out at least a cup of the cooking liquid and set aside. Strain the potatoes.

Chop the potatoes as uniformly as possible to ensure they will all be cooked through. Photo by Scott Groth

Okay- we need to dry the potatoes. Put back into the pot they were cooked in over medium heat. Don’t add butter or anything- just keep them moving. A ton of steam will come off the potatoes- that is exactly what we want. Continue to stir for about a minute, then move them to the mixing bowl. Toss in about 1/2 of the roasted garlic.

I used a stand mixer with the whip attachment for these potatoes, but I suppose you could use an electric hand mixer. I’m not sure though, so if you do and it works, please post up. Start to mix the potatoes until they are just lightly broken up. Stop the mixer. Add the cream. Mix on high speed until incorporated. Stop the mixer, add the butter and repeat. When incorporated, stop the mixer and add the sour cream and pepper. Mix on high speed. Taste- if you need salt, add some in. If you want more roasted garlic, toss the rest in now. The consistency should be starting to become smooth. Add in some of the reserved cooking liquid until the desired consistency has been reached.

This is why I am not a baker- I get messes everywhere! We're whipping taters here. Photo by Scott Groth

I whipped my potatoes for probably six or seven minutes total. Whipping them on high with the whip attachment is important so you incorporate air into the spuds. Otherwise, I think they will turn into a glutenous mess that taste heavy. If you want more cream, add that in. More butter flavor, you know what to do. This is an easy recipe that should turn out some really good food. Literally whip these babies up and serve with just about anything a potato would go with. They’re delicious. Enjoy!

Whipped potatoes with roasted garlic- ready to be devoured. Photo by Scott Groth

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